Australian Gov’t is Denying Manning a Visa Not to Offend Washington - Lawyer

© REUTERS / Ritzau Scanpix/Torben Christensen Whistleblower Chelsea Manning talks during the Roskilde Festival 2018 at the Gloria Stage about activism in Roskilde, Denmark, July 5, 2018
Whistleblower Chelsea Manning talks during the Roskilde Festival 2018 at the Gloria Stage about activism in Roskilde, Denmark, July 5, 2018 - Sputnik International
US whistleblower Chelsea Manning will be barred from entering Australia where she’s due to give a series of talks later this week. Her tour organizer Think Inc. has received a notice of intention from the Australian government to deny Manning entry. Manning spent seven years in jail for leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks.

Sputnik has discussed this with Greg Barns, a prominent human rights lawyer, Spokesman for the Australian Lawyers Alliance and member of Julian Assange legal team.

Sputnik: What are you making of this ban? What do you think of it?

In this April 18, 2018 photo, Chelsea Manning addresses participants at an anti-fracking rally in Baltimore. It's one of the most unconventional U.S. Senate bids in recent memory: Manning, America's most famous convicted leaker, is seeking to win Maryland’s Democratic primary - Sputnik International
New Zealand Allows Manning to Apply for Visa After Australia's Snub - Reports
Greg Barns: There is a power that the Immigration Minister has under Australian law to refuse to allow entry to people who have been in prison for 12 months or more. The troubling aspect of this particular case is that Chelsea Manning, of course, is a global figure; has strong support among many Australians, and does appear to be a case where the Australian government is simply denying her a visa on the basis of not wanting to offend Washington.

Sputnik: So do you think this is more about not wanting to offend Washington?

Greg Barns: I do, and also you've got a conservative government in Australia which is very close to Washington. Australia, of course, participated in conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and the military establishment and the security establishment of Australia would be very hostile to Chelsea.

Sputnik: Chelsea has done her time and had a sentence commuted by Obama, why do you think it's such a big deal to allow Chelsea to come to Australia? What is the fear? What will she possibly do in Australia?

Greg Barns: Well, it's a very good question. The law is generally only applied to people who the government thinks may jeopardize Australian interests. It's hard to see, by any stretch of the imagination, how a short trip by Chelsea Manning to Australia to speak at some venues and to conduct some interviews could be in any way damaging to Australia's interests. As I say, I think this is really a very hypocritical stance by the Australian government.

READ MORE: N Zealand Opposition Calls to Ban 'Convicted Felon' Chelsea Manning From Country

It's allowed some extreme right speakers into the country over the past 12 months or two years. There's been within the current government talk about the right to freedom of speech and the importance of the right to freedom of speech and yet here we have a case where freedom of speech is being denied.

Sputnik: So you think that there was any pressure put on the Australian government or the agencies that made this decision by the US?

Greg Barns: I would've thought there's absolutely no doubt that the United States would've put some pressure on the Australian government. The Australian government, unfortunately, doesn't need much pressure. If Washington says jump, generally Australia jumps.

Sputnik: What is the Australian government's stance on whistleblowers?

Chelsea Manning, right, is interviewed by filmmaker Eugene Jarecki, left, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017, during a forum, in Nantucket, Mass. - Sputnik International
Chelsea Manning to Be Barred from Australia Due to Criminal Record
Greg Barns: Well, look I think the Australian government generally speaking is very hostile to whistleblowers. I've never seen any evidence on the contrary. One of the most prominent whistleblowers in this country Andrew Wilkie is now a federal member of parliament, but he went through a very tough time after exposing the lies which the Australian government told about the reasons for the invasion of Iraq.

READ MORE: ‘Vicious' Trump DOJ Ramps Up Obama-Era Tactics in Reality Winner Case

We've seen a number of other whistleblowers subjected to some serious mistreatment by the Australian government, particularly, those who have exposed the maltreatment of asylum seekers. So Australia has a poor track record when it comes to looking after whistleblowers.

Sputnik: What do you think could've been offensive or damaging, was there anything that was unpleasant for the Australian government?

Greg Barns: Well, what she exposed was the appalling conduct of the United States and its allies in Iraq and Afghanistan. And that would, of course, embarrass Australia, and it should embarrass Australian, because there are many millions of Australians who opposed those wars and what Chelsea Manning did was to reveal the truth about those wars.

Sputnik:  Some experts have actually expressed hope that the Australian government would offer a solution to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and either stand up for him in some way or return him to the country, you work with Julian Assange, of course, do you think there's any hope that this actually will happen?

Greg Barns: Look, I think they're separate issues; and the Chelsea Manning issue is very different and separate issue to the issue of Julian Assange. I don't think they're related particularly. I think the issue in relation to Chelsea Manning is very much one way the Australian government doesn't want to offend the United States by giving a platform to Chelsea Manning.

READ MORE: Pentagon, White House at Odds Over Trashed Plans for Military Parade

Sputnik: How much attention has this gotten in the press?

Greg Barns: It's got a lot of attention in Australia and I think most Australians again are shaking their heads at why it is the Australian government has to be so sycophantic towards the United States.   

The views expressed in this article are solely those of Greg Barns and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.


To participate in the discussion
log in or register
Заголовок открываемого материала